If you read this blog regularly, you're probably familiar with Football Outsiders. If you've been here for a year or longer, you're probably familiar with the annual Football Outsiders Almanac. It is a must-buy for any and all NFL fans, and is the best way to review the previous season of every NFL team while looking ahead to predict what will happen in the coming year.
Everyone on the BFTB staff has already dug through the 2013 edition, and we sent a few follow-up questions to Andy Benoit, who was tasked with writing about the 2012 and 2013 San Diego Chargers. Here are his answers:
Would the Chargers benefit from giving Danny Woodhead at least 1/3 of the carries, keeping Ryan Mathews fresh and limiting his injury potential?
Perhaps, but at some point, Mathews has to be a player for them. No sense having a first-rounder on roster if he won’t be used. But regardless of Mathews’ health, I think Woodhead is worthy of 1/3 of the reps anyway. Although there is a question of how he will do without Tom Brady to move the defense back. Last year, 83 percent of his carries came with six or fewer men in the box.
Paul Posluszny got a hefty contract after his 100+ tackling performances in Buffalo. DeMeco Ryans got a nice contract from Philly after posting only 64 tackles the prior year. In your opinion, how much is ILB Donald Butler worth? Is San Diego looking at similar contract numbers to keep him in town?
I’m fascinated to see what happens with Butler. The Te’o pick suggests to me that Chargers might be willing to let Butler walk (he’s had some injury issues here and there, too). I think that would be a mistake; he’s very underrated. But he might garner more money in FA than SD feels he’s worth.
You briefly mentioned it in the piece, but could you elaborate a little more on why you believe Ingram pre-injury was SD's "most impressive rising young player" over guys like Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget despite his one-sack season. Also, as a follow up, what might the future hold for Melvin Ingram from a sack production standpoint? Does he have the talent for double-digit sack totals?
In the interest of clarity, I should point out that Ingram is a player where the stats and scouting don't necessarily agree. Our SackSEER system was not very high on him coming out of South Carolina, projecting him with only 18.4 sacks in his first five seasons. As Football Outsiders' resident film writer, however, I'm more impressed by Ingram. I do disagree with the projection, and I think Ingram can be a double-digit sack guy, but really, how much does it matter? Sacks are overrated. What’s important is how many different ways and levels can a guy impact the game? How disruptive can he be to an offense’s blocking schemes and plans? Ingram has tremendous and unique athleticism and the versatility to do it all. He's a very disguise-able piece.
Does the addition of Woodhead guarantee that the Chargers will stay in the top 3 of running back targets in the passing game?
No because most of SD’s running back pass targets were a function of how Norv Turner’s scheme works. In McCoy’s offense, fewer deep drops mean fewer dumpoff passes, which will mean fewer catches for RB’s.
Will the Charger's continue to play 'sides' at the Cornerback position or will they trust Derek Cox to cover the opponent's top wideout?
My guess is they’ll have to play sides because Cox is by no means a top corner. Not even close.
How many turnovers does Philip Rivers have to stay under to officially have a "bounce back" year? How many yards does Mathews have to have to shed the "bust" label in '13?
This is a make or break year for Mathews. As for Rivers, hard to specify a set number (turnovers can be misleading at times because they’re sometimes circumstantial). The Chargers will "know it when they see it" with Rivers. Although let's be honest, nobody knows WHAT, exactly, they’ll see.
Thanks, Andy! We appreciate you stopping by, and please keep up the excellent work you do at Football Outsiders.